All through my life I have loved books and reading. Growing up I had quite a vivid imagination (and still do) and I enjoyed getting lost in the fictional stories I read. Throughout High school, I would often escape to our public Library where I would browse through non-fiction books about art, history, and the natural environment. I also discovered a love for poetry and begun collecting my favourite poems and quotes in notebooks, which I still have today.
I like reading a variety of genres from romance and drama to historical fiction. I have recently started enjoying fictional stories set in the outback, or on ranches…give me a cowboy love story with horses in it and I’m happy! I have read a few biographies, I enjoy reading about other people’s life journeys be it about art, craft, making, baking and gardening. I haven’t delved too deep into classics, but do enjoy Jane Austen. I admit I was late to the party when it came to Harry Potter, but I’m a massive fan now. Likewise, I didn’t discover a love for The Lord of the Rings until my twenties, admittedly after I had seen the movies. I’m not too much into fantasy and sci-fi, I tend to enjoy human lead stories, but a little bit of fantasy is ok.
I knew when I had my daughter Matilda I wanted to encourage in her a passion and love for the written word. I started reading to her at night whilst I was pregnant and continued to read to her nearly every day after she was born. She is now three and we both look forward to the half hour before bedtime when we read some story books together. I admit I get a little bit bored at reading the same book over and over again, as like with most young children I’m sure, Matilda has her favourites that she is happy to read every night while it is the flavour of the month!
Now that she is getting older I thought it would be nice to introduce her to our local Library. I signed her up and she now has her very own Library card. Of course, a trip to the library means you need to have a Library bag, and so I decided to make one.
I searched on Pinterest and found this great free tutorial for the Library Tote Bag by Amanda Niederhauser of Jedi Craft. The two main fabrics I bought on our Victoria Roadtrip last year and paired them with fabric from my stash. I decided to hand embroider with some variegated pearl thread the initial ‘M’ and of course the bag wouldn’t be complete without some signature mini EPP, so I made two 3/8” hexie flowers which I appliqued on.
I’m really pleased with how the bag finished. It was pretty quick and easy to whip up and Tilly loves it. I’m planning our first trip to the Library soon. A morning out with some books, reading and maybe a hot chocolate and some cake…what could be better than that?!
Last year I discovered the wonderful world and community of Knitting and Crochet Podcasts. I immediately fell down the most amazing rabbit hole as I discovered so many beautiful and talented makers, designers and dyers. All of a sudden I was exposed to beautiful hand dyed yarn, the colours and textures dazzling and surprising me. Here was this whole variety of yarn outside the realm of the commercial yarns I had been buying at my local big box craft store. I also discovered many amazing crochet & knitting designers and patterns and I rode the wave, collecting projects on my Making Wish List.
I can’t remember how old I was when Mumsie first taught me to crochet and knit, but I do remember it didn’t ‘stick’ with me the first go around. I had already discovered my passion for English Paper Piecing which was starting to take over my life! Like many mums-to-be, I first picked up a crochet hook again when I was pregnant with our daughter, Matilda. I wanted to make her a blanket, a cardigan and a toy (to start!). Instagram had shown me the wonderful world of Amigurumi and it was at this point that I fell in love with crochet. I hadn’t yet discovered podcasts at this point, so knitting still flew under the radar for me. I always considered crochet to be the easier of the two as dropped stitches seemed easier to fix and mistakes hid better!
One of the first podcast I watched was lovely Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet. Watching her talk about the projects she was sewing and knitting was very inspiring and she is such a delight to sit and chat with while I sew. Soon I also discovered Sandra of Cherry Heart Podcast, Dani of Little Bobbins Podcast, Sam of Betsy Makes Podcast and Molly of The Homespun House Podcast. I noticed a similar thread…they all knit or crocheted, and they were all knitting socks….beautiful patterns and designs from equally beautiful, stunning hand dyed yarn. I needed them, I wanted them. I had to have them. What an utterly indulgent item of clothing to have! So for the second time, I asked Mumsie to teach me to knit.
We started out with learning the basics, garter stitch and knit stitch using cheap acrylic yarn and bamboo needles. I have to say, not very thrilling or enjoyable. I found my tension to be really tight with the bamboo needles and the yarn a bore. Mumsie suggested my tension might loosen up with metal needles, so I gave that a go and it felt much better. I was still bored though. I thought I might enjoy the learning process better if I actually made an item from some nice hand dyed yarn. I decided to knit Matilda a simple garter stitch scarf with some 8 ply hand dyed merino yarn from Jazzy Makes. I cast on 30 stitches and used size 4.5 straight needles. After plodding along for some time I started to get a bit bored. My tension was going well and I hadn’t dropped any stitches, but I needed the project to be over and I was itching to learn more skills. I decided that the scarf was probably a bit too wide for Tilly but that if I was to join the ends together it would make the perfect size cowl for her, so that’s what I did.
I am proud of my first finished object, and the yarn is scrumptious. Tilly really likes it too and I’m sure it will get a lot of use this winter.
For my second knit project I thought it would be good to make something using circular needles, knitting in the round that included increases and decreases…to prepare me for knitting socks! So I found a simple beanie pattern on Ravelry called the Lollypop Hat by Elena Nodel. I picked a skein of The Australian Wool Store, Merino, Silk, Nylon 8ply, 100g, 180m, colour Mint Santelmann to use as mint green looks lovely on Tilly. Mumsie helped me to get started and then I used YouTube tutorials to learn how to transition from the circulars to DPN’s and how to close the top of the hat. I am super happy with how the beanie turned out, only there is one problem…it’s a bit too small for Matilda. I can get it on her head, but it doesn’t really go over her ears properly, which I think is necessary for a beanie.
So, with my new found knitting confidence I cast on another beanie, this time making a larger size. I chose to use a soft acrylic yarn as I thought it would be a safer choice for Tilly as she will be able to wear it outside playing or at school. The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly Cofter Baby Fair Isle Effect DK in colour 0159. It was quite nice to knit with being a soft baby acrylic yarn. I had a fairly easy time knitting the second beanie, given it was my second go at the pattern and I started to get in to the knitting groove, developing and practicing my own knitting rhythm and technique. I still find it a slow process, much slower than crochet. I watch my mum knit and her hands flick the yarn and move the needles so fast I feel like it’s going to be years before I get to her level of knitting! I know that practice makes perfect though. Tilly’s second beanie is a tad big for her, but I’m super pleased with it and a bit of growing room is always a good thing with a hand knit item for a child.
My two beanies done, it was time to try socks and so that is what I’m currently working on…and loving it! I bought some Fiber Lily yarn a little while ago with the intention of making socks with it. I chose her Aussie Sock, 80% Australian Merino SW 20% Nylon in colour Carousel. I love how it’s knitting up. I’m using Mumsie’s Vanilla Sock pattern. We have the same size feet which is super convenient. We did a long tail cast on of 54 stitches, followed by 14 rows of 1×1 rib and then 42 rows of knit to the heal. Today Mum started teaching me how to knit the heal. I’m using Addi Sockwonder circular needles size 25cm/2.5mm with Knit Pro Zing 2.5 DPN’s.
So far I’m super pleased with how they are turning out. My tension is really good…Mumsie is quite proud of how well my tension is going, particularly considering how tight it was when I first started learning!
I can’t wait to get my first pair of socks finished. There are so many beautiful sock patterns out there I would like to try and so many stunning yarns to knit them in! However, my next knit project I’m going to try is the Dirty Lace shawl by Truly Mrytle. Mum and I already have our yarns picked out as we are going to knit it together. So stay tuned for more adventures in knitting!
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season. It all passes by so quickly doesn’t it? It reminds me of a wedding, so much preparation and money spent on one single day of enjoyment. It is joyous though. We had a lovely time spent with our family at home and down the road at my in-laws. Tilly actually started to understand what Christmas was, that Santa visited and gave her presents. It was fun seeing her start to get excited. For days after I took our Christmas tree down, she would come into the lounge room in the morning and ask with saddened surprise “where has the Chrissy tree gone?”
I am currently still on holidays as the company I work for shuts down for four weeks. As usual, I have written myself a mammoth to-do list which I have no hope of actually achieving…but then that’s just the way I seem to operate. Give myself heaps of tasks and goals to do even though I know it’s not actually possible to get them all done… except in a world where I did not need to sleep! Still, I like having it all written down and working towards ticking things off my list, which is very satisfying.
This post is all about 2018 in review. My general thoughts on 2018 were that it was a pretty great year. There were definitely some low and sad points, Tim lost his Uncle and I had some up and down moments emotionally. My Mumsie quit her job which has been fantastic for her, though I’m kind of jealous has now she has even more time to craft!
It has been really fun watching Tilly grow and develop this past year…or though I could have done without the tantrums and poor eating habits. She is such a little chatterbox now, and it’s fun seeing her imagination develop in play.
We witnessed two great friends get married and had a little road trip adventure through parts of Victoria. We also enjoyed another great Easter camping trip with our friends.
I spent a lot of time last year really figuring out what it is that I wanted my business to be and where I wanted to take it. I decided that my true passion above all my other crafty pursuits is English Paper Piecing. From that The Maker’s Stash was born, my new brand for EPP supplies and my own Pattern designs. This is still a work in progress but I’m hoping to officially get it launched over the next month or so. I also decided what I wanted to focus my product making time on for Miss Leela Handmade. I have some exciting new items that are still in idea phase and I’m hoping to start getting these out and in my shop soon.
I got a lot of making done in 2018 (at least I feel like I did for someone that works full time and is a mother, wife, house cleaner etc.!):
Crochet and Knitting – Finished
Scrap Yarn Magic Ball Drawstring bag – to store my stuffing in
Braelyn Head Warmer by The Velvet Acorn for Tilly
Amigurumi Lamb by Anatillea for Tilly
Knitted scarf from Jazzy Makes Hand Dyed yarn for Tilly
Soul Soothing Mits by Sandra Cherry Heart for me.
Crochet blanket, crochet bunny and pear rattle for my Best Friends baby boy Seamus
Crochet and Knitting – Started
For Keeps Shawl by The Velvet Acorn – for me
Quilts – Finished
Quilt for Lachlan
Quilt for Ivy
Quilt for Archer
Quilts started/worked on
Flowers Floor Quilt – for Tilly
Scrappy 1” hexagon quilt
Mini Quilts – Finished
Liberty Mosaic One MQ
Liberty Mosaic Two MQ
Half Hexagon MQ
Flower Power MQ
Mini Quilts started/worked on/nearly finished
Garden of Patience Issue Three
Garden of Patience Issue Four
Hexagon Flowers MQ
Playing with Shapes Mini EPP
Liberty Mosaic Three MQ
Items made for my Shop and Markets
9 Small Hexie Hearts ¼” hexies, Hoop Wall Hangings
22 Hexagon Flower Pincushions
21 Liberty Flower Fabric Tags
9 Hexagon Flower Heart Decorations
Dolls Quilt and Pillow
Hexie Heart Hoop Wall Hanging for lovely Madeline
5 Crochet soap pouches for the girls at work
Mini Pin Pennant
Hexie Flower Pincushion Prototype
2018 was a great year for meeting and connecting with this wonderful Maker Community. My followers on Instagram grew from approximately 700 to the 2,606 I have today. I find this astounding and I am humbled by everyone that chooses to have me pop up in their feed. I have so many lovely Insta friends and look forward to making so many more.
I discovered the wonderful world of Knitting, Crochet and Sewing podcasts and decided to join in with my own podcast. I launched this Web-Blog and found myself keener to write and put up posts and content. I started going to my local Blue Mountains Brown Owls meet-ups with my Mum. I love being a part of this group and look forward to every meeting. I have met and made lovely new friends here also.
Many crafty adventures were had including Mumsie’s and my annual pilgrimage to the Sydney Quilt and Craft fair. We also attended the Orange Fibre Muster and went on our first (but definitely not last) visit to Skein Sisters.
I experimented with yarn dying, something I really enjoy but have set aside any dreams of adding this to my business (for now :winks: ). My Mumsie also started teaching me to knit (for the second time). I also held my first Make-Along the #sundayscrapalong2018 which was loads of fun and I look forward to holding it again this year.
I attended three local Handmade Markets, two of which I was involved in organising with the community group I belong to The Blue Mountains Makers. We had a great year in 2018. I set up a new web-blog for the group which I’ll be managing and writing for in 2019. We welcomed new members to the committee and I enjoyed getting to know our local makers/team members.
As a team leader for The Blue Mountains Maker’s I was very fortunate to have a trip down to Melbourne courtesy of Etsy for the Etsy Captain’s Summit. This was a great weekend meeting the other team captains and learning a tone of info about Etsy and business tools from some great speakers. My highlight was meeting the wonderful Maryanne Moodie. I had a total fan-girl moment and got her signature and photo with her. She was so gracious and chatted with me for a bit and was interested in seeing what I make. I found her talk very enlightening and inspiring.
My word for 2018 was ‘Discovery’ and I also wanted to achieve a more Mindful Life. On the whole, I feel pretty happy that I lived up to my word and goals pretty well. Some things I definitely achieved, some I am still working on. I feel I have definitely grown as a person this past year and I am feeling excited and optimistic for the year ahead.
My word for 2019 is ‘Balance’. I picked this word back in November. Even then I was starting to formulate in my mind what I wanted to work on and achieve this year. This word is definitely going to be a challenge as balancing all of my commitments, along with looking after myself and being present as a wife, mum and friend is definitely something I have struggled with the past two years.
I hope you all had a wonderful 2018 and I hope that this year brings you all of the best things…happiness, love, tea and crafty time.
Over the past month I have been slowly going through my craft paraphernalia. It is amazing how one can hoard so much craft stuff, from fabric & wool, to ribbons & lace, buttons & beads, paper craft & other bits & pieces. For some crafters, the phrase de-stash may conjure up feelings of distress & sheer horror. The thought of clearing out items from a well curated stash might seem like an unbearable thing, a terrible torture to inflict on someone creative. And what about all the money you spent on acquiring your stash? Surely you just can’t give it away for nothing in return?
When I decided I was going to do a de-stash, I made sure that I did it with conviction. I think this is the key. You can’t go in to it half hearted, you can’t procrastinate on a single thing because that will cause your resolve to waver. I’m not saying it’s easy. It took me three goes to de-stash my patchwork fabric collection, and even now I still think that maybe I have held on to some fabric I’ll never use. But I persisted. Some of it was easy & I found myself thinking ‘why did I by this?’. Obviously I had liked it when I bought it, but tastes change, & you may find yourself drawn to other styles or themes of fabric that leave items in your stash redundant. This has definitely been the case with myself. As I am re-branding my business & in a sense re-branding my entire creative making style, I decided not to keep any fabric that didn’t fit in to my new brand. This made chucking fabric out just that little bit easier.
De-stashing my fabric was definitely the hardest but I found going through everything else much easier. Now that I have discovered Indie Hand Dyed yarn & I’ve a growing appreciation for quality wool products, throwing out almost my entire collection of acrylic yarn was like eating a piece of cake. The same went with all the ribbons, lace, buttons & beads I had acquired over the years. If I couldn’t see myself making something out of it that wasn’t in-line with my new branding & making style, then out it went!
So after one has cleansed themselves of un-wanted stash, what do you do with it all? Well I decided to have a Studio Open Day & De-Stash sale. Unfortunately for me the day I picked turned out to be incredibly hot so I didn’t get a stellar turn-out – though I greatly appreciated the lovely ladies that did come & take some of my stash of my hands. Still you never know how these sort of things are going to go if you don’t give it a try. It was nice to sit in my studio & sew all day, surrounded by my craft hoarding & feeling a great sense of relief that I was getting rid of some of it.
So what to do with what is left (which is still a massive amount)? I will bring it along to a couple of markets with me & try to sell it that way. It is all quality items, especially the fabric, so I would like to see it go to people who will be able to use it in their own making endeavours.
I do not regret doing a de-stash, in fact I feel rather great about it! Plus it now frees up storage space in my studio for new stash! This time however I am going to be rather more critical when buying for my stash. Fabric & yarn must be bought with my brand in mind. I’m also going to try & only by items for specific projects, rather than buying something & thinking, yep one day I can make something lovely with that.
So if you’ve been thinking about doing a de-stash, do it! It might be hard, at first you might barely throw anything out. Consider doing a swap with another maker or crafter. This may make the releasing of stash items from your closely guarded collection more bearable. Go in to it with an open mind & you may just feel a great sense of relief & peace with it all.
Just popped by to let you know I filmed my first in a series of Tutorials about English Paper Piecing. Tutorial #1 is all about Basting & Sewing Quarter Inch Hexies. You can view the Tutorial on my YouTube Channel here!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!
Hello there! Hope you are all well. Today is the first day of Autumn, although it is still a rather warm sunny summery day. I don’t know about anyone else & I’m certainly no meteorological expert, but I really do think our Summer here doesn’t end until at least April. I feel like over the last few years the seasons have been slowly shifting & Summer gets longer while Autumn & Winter get shorter. I used to always be a summer girl & the heat never really bothered me. Boy has that changed! This year I have found the heat utterly exhausting & I can’t wait for the cooler weather of Autumn & Winter, to get rugged up & wear my boots again! I’m definitely starting to prefer Autumn & Spring now. The weather is so much milder & there are more opportunities to get in to the garden & get some landscaping done.
As one month ends & another begins I thought I’d write a bit about my reflections on the past month & what I have or have not achieved in my aim of developing a more mindful & balanced life.
I started a bullet journal which is something I have not tried before. I’m not really following any kind of specific formula, or template, just creating pages for things that I would like to keep track of & explore over the year. So far I have really enjoyed it & I try to create a new page every couple of days. I think it will be a really nice way to see what I’ve achieved & remember all the things that we did as a family at the end of the year. So far I have pages for Books I’ve read, Makes for Me, Makes for Tilly, Makes for Gifts & Makes for the home. I’ve also drawn up a Walking & Hiking Tracker to count how many kilometres I do on my morning walks or hikes I go on. I also have a sewing time & crochet time tracker to see how many hours over the course of a year these two activities take up. I have listed my two Make Nines as well as a page for this year’s word, Discovery, & my Mindful Living goals. I have pages for Adventures, Holidays, Garden Tasks & Home Renovations completed. A page to list the things I’m grateful for, New Crafts I’ve Tried & Tilly’s milestones.
As well as my bullet journal I’ve been working in my List Journal which was put out by the magazine Breathe. Some of the questions or lists have been really easy to fill out, but others are much harder & it’s really forced me to sit down & think about my thoughts & answers.
I have started going on a morning walk on Friday’s. I don’t work on this day, so I get up early & go for a walk before Tilly gets up & before my husband leaves for work. As I really want to get in to bushwalking or hiking, I thought this would be a good way to build my fitness levels back up. It’s also a nice way to clear my mind a bit after a week of being in the office & prepare myself for what the weekend will bring.
Native Gum Blossom found on my morning walk.
It’s been really hot here this past month so I haven’t really gotten out in to the garden to do much. We have a lot of hard landscaping & clearing that needs to be done & that’s a bit hard to do in 35-40 degree heat! I did get a bit done last week before the rain deluge, & Tim & I cut some trees down & took two loads of waste to the tip. I’d really like to plant some spring bulbs this year, so I need to get the front garden beds weeded & mulched soon so I can do that.
I’ve really enjoyed my making time this month. It’s been nice having the pressure to make items for my shop or markets taken off my shoulders. I’ve enjoyed working on things that I want to work on. I’ve nearly finished my Hexagon Flower Mini Quilt. I have loved working on this & it feels good to have nearly finished something I started ages ago.
I pulled out another project I started years ago in the past week to get done, a 1” hexagon quilt pattern that I drafted up around 6 years ago. It’s called the Flowers Floor Mat & I’m hoping to get it finished for Tilly for Christmas.
I’ve been crocheting a couple of things for my best friend who is having her first baby. She is due in April. I’ve been crocheting a ripple pram blanket & I’ve also made a bunny buddy for her. I have plans to make a fruit rattle as well. I also dyed up some yarn which my mum has then crocheted into a gorgeous cardigan. This past week I’ve also been making decorations for her baby shower which is this Sunday.
I have been reading much more, although I still do find that the only thing I really want to do in my downtime is sew. I find it hard to stop when I’m engrossed in a project. This month I finished A Garden in the Hills by Christine McCabe. To be honest I actually started this book last year but put it aside as I got really busy with my shop & markets. I didn’t have much to go so I thought I’d get it done so I could start something new. The book follows a year in the life of a Garden in the Adelaide Hills. I really enjoyed it & it was quite motivating. The only thing I found mildly disappointing is that even though it’s a novel, there were no photos of the garden that the book was about. And while the author painted a really good picture, it would have been nice to see some actual photos.
We went on a couple of outings in February. There was the daytrip I took with Tilly & my parents last weekend, which I wrote about in my previous post to Mittagong & Bowral. Tim, Tilly & I also went on a drive up the mountains to Blackheath to Evans Lookout & also up Blackheath Mountain. Every time we go exploring in our ‘backyard’ & I stand on the rocky outcrops looking over the vast valleys I feel such a sense of awe & littleness. It always leaves me feeling rejuvenated & with a great sense of hope & optimism for our future. It’s so nice getting back to nature. Even though the bush is so vast somehow it also feels so comforting. We’re going camping at Easter with friends out west again this year & I can’t wait! It’s going to be so much fun watching Tilly explore, & you just can’t beat sitting around the campfire with friends having a good old yarn!
The view from Evans Lookout
On top of Blackheath Mountain looking down in to the Megalong Valley
Tilly & I did some painting this month. It’s so fun watching here develop her creative side. She really enjoys drawing with crayons & painting. I bought some paper plates for her to paint. Because they are a bit stiffer than sheets of paper I thought they’d be a bit more robust & stand up to the paintbrush stabbing & all the wet paint. Paper gets quite soggy & tears really easy. I bought a couple of small canvases for her to paint on next. Tilly now goes to day care, or ‘School’ as we prefer to call it on Thursday’s. Her first day was fantastic & there were no tears when I dropped her. Subsequent weeks were not so good & there was a lot of crying & holding on to me for dear life when it was time for me to go. She always has a good day there & enjoys the activities. The drop off has gotten better & last week there was only a brief little cry when I went to leave. I know she will get better, & it’s so good for development. I’m amazed at how much she is learning & how quickly she is learning. She can now count to 10 & can also read & say all the letters of the alphabet, except for G, J & W. The other day whilst doing the grocery shopping she even recited the entire alphabet from A to Z without any help from me!!
This moth I also played around a bit more with my styling & photography, this time with a Valentine’s Theme. I’m still finding my feet with styling & photography & this is something I want to work on a lot more this year.
I hope this past month has been a good one for you. I hope the start of your year has been great & that you feel you’re on track for a year full of all the loveliest things in life. I know I’ve certainly started this year very positively & I have enjoyed discovering new things, new ways to look at my life & new things about myself.